Greece during ancient Greek history was one of the world’s most advanced pre-industrial economies, boasting notable philosophers and poets like Socrates, Sophocles, Plato and Aristotle as renowned figures.
Pheidippides ran 42,5 km to Athens to announce the Greek victory over Persians – now commonly referred to as the marathon race.
1. They wore purple dye
Democracy, philosophy, sculptural masterpieces, dramatic tragedies and the Olympic Games: many fundamental aspects of Western culture first surfaced in ancient Greece.
Greeks lived in independent city-states known as polis, each of which had their own government and laws. Although a resident from Miletus may speak differently from someone from Athens, both languages shared similar roots.
City-states had a peculiar form of democracy that only permitted male citizens over 20 to vote on laws by gathering at a central hill downtown and suggesting them. Women, slaves and migrants did not have any power or representation compared to their male counterparts; slavery existed but not like it does today: Slaves could own property while also having families but no political rights were guaranteed for them.
2. They invented the first computer
The ancient Greeks were leaders in various fields, such as science and mathematics. They invented theories in astronomy, biology and physics that still hold up today.
They employed their mathematical skills to invent what has since been called the first computer – Antikythera Mechanism – filled with elaborate bronze gears capable of predicting eclipses, dates for Olympic Games and movements of planets and stars.
Athenians had an advanced medical system. By distinguishing superstition from medical treatment and finding remedies such as opium to relieve pain or egg white to seal wounds. Furthermore, their jury system used an intricate machine known as a Kleroterion to select jurors randomly so no one knew who would sit on a jury and thus couldn’t bribe anyone into ruling against their case.
3. They invented the Greek alphabet
The Greeks were among the first people to create written language, as evidenced by their adoption of an alphabet version from Phoenicia for recording trade, food and drink transactions. This allowed residents of different cities or polises to communicate effectively; previously this would not have been possible given accent and vocabulary differences between cities like Miletus and Athens.
Greek culture was an open one that fostered debates and philosophical conversations. Additionally, they developed the world’s first democracy – though this didn’t last very long – while being superstitious about everything from animals or birds appearing to consulting oracles for guidance; even fearing beans because they believed they contained dead Greek souls! Finally, ancient Greeks also developed an educational system including loving mentor relationships as well as Homeric poems to further their education system.
4. They invented the wheel
Ancient Greece saw wheel used for everything from war tools to works of art; even crediting its use with magical properties like soothing seas and storms or moving the god Hermes from Orpheus’ Theogonies!
Greeks were also responsible for creating an early form of democracy where ordinary citizens could have an input in how their country was run, starting in Athens and eventually spreading across other city-states with different versions.
At the same time, they created the Linear B writing system, an update of ancient civilization’s unreadable Linear A writing system. However, instead of toilet paper back then they relied on flat stones called pessoi that probably weren’t as comfortable and could even lead to skin irritation and external hemorrhoids!
5. They invented a type of democracy
Ancient Greece provided male citizens of voting age the chance to participate in its main democratic body – the assembly – as well as vote for political positions. Citizenship wasn’t automatically bestowed; rather it came through education, feasting and rituals which built relationships and trust between citizens – today known as social capital.
Ancient Greek politics, philosophy, art and scientific achievements had a tremendous effect on Western civilization two millennia later. Democracy now plays an integral part of global governance systems.
But just like ancient Greece, democracy does have its drawbacks. At Athens in particular, a cunning group of aristocrats usurped democracy in 514 BCE to rule as tyrants – but their reforms helped advance democracy significantly despite this setback – so their memory should not be forgotten.
6. They invented a 42-km run
Have you heard the legendary tale of Pheidippides, an herald who ran 26 miles (42 kilometres) to announce the Greek victory over Persian forces at the Battle of Marathon? His feat has become the basis for modern marathon race. His journey is remembered through modern marathon competition.
Though Herodotus doesn’t make mention of him, Plutarch’s version of events suggests that an herald was sent out to assure the city that their army wasn’t retreating and giving up, so perhaps the herald mythology was created as part of an elaborate narrative arc.
Ancient Greece wasn’t like modern countries in that it consisted of multiple self-governing city-states or ‘poleis’ that made their own laws and held assemblies where eligible male citizens could vote on issues.
7. They invented cheesecake
Cheesecake was first invented in ancient Greece! These delectable delicacies were commonly served at wedding ceremonies and given out as energy boosters to Olympian athletes during competitions.
Greeks were also among the first people to invent vending machines; their version dispensed holy water and could be operated via coins.
One of the more unorthodox ancient Greek practices was using flat stones as toilet paper – known as pessoi! No doubt this would have been quite uncomfortable!
Ancient Greece was an extraordinary civilization that made enormous contributions to world. They introduced philosophy, literature, theatre and sophisticated sculptures and architecture. Their culture continues to have an effectful presence today – the United States even models its democracy after ancient Greek democracy! Here are a few more interesting facts about Ancient Greece:
8. They worshipped many Gods and Goddesses
Ancient Greeks believed that their gods and goddesses controlled every aspect of life, making sacrifices to please them or face punishment from them. Therefore, special altars and temples were established where people could pray to godly statues. Additionally, oracles or divination practices were often employed to seek guidance or predict future outcomes.
Mount Olympus was home to twelve of the most prominent Gods and Goddesses; others resided in various cities and towns around it; each town had their own special deities that lived within its boundaries.
Women who opted to become priestesses or hiereiai enjoyed greater social recognition and access to luxurious goods. Priestesses or hiereiai were responsible for keeping Hestia’s fire burning both at home and the prytaneum on Olympus through daily animal sacrifices; its extinguishing was seen as sacrilege.
9. They invented the Sacred Way
After two lovers managed to unseat Athens’s tyrannies, they established the world’s first democracy. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t quite as equitable as we might expect: only men over 20 could take part in assembly meetings and choose who represented them; women and enslaved people had no representation whatsoever.
The Greeks placed great importance on knowledge, and made numerous major advances in science, mathematics, philosophy and other areas in a relatively short amount of time. Furthermore, while they lived in distinct city-states called polis, all had one shared language.
10. They invented the Olympic Games
Olympic Games were an integral part of ancient Greek culture, so much so that late antiquity historians often measured time by measuring intervals between them (an Olympiad).
Ancient Olympic competition was more limited than modern ones and only open to free men from Greek city-states or kingdoms; those who won were heralded as heroes.
Foot races, the pentathlon (running, long jump, discus and javelin throwing, wrestling) and pankration were among the competitions held during ancient Greek athletic games. Music was often featured at these athletic games because ancient Greeks believed it increased coordination and movement. One musician was especially noted for playing music called ekekheiria that involved beating air with sticks to create a beat that helped coordination and speed.